Do I need to use an agency?
If you are in the Philippines looking to work overseas, you will need to use a POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) accredited employment agency to process your Visa and other Paperwork.
You have two options for finding employment overseas:
1) Allow the employment agency to find an employer for you, and also do the visa and exit clearance paperwork.
This means the employment agency will try to match you with a job from the available employers that they have. They will arrange interviews with you and potential employers, most likely over video conferencing. Some agencies will also create a pre-recorded video introduction / interview for you that will be sent to potential employers.
2) You find an employer on your own and only use an employment agency to do the visa processing.
This means you found an employer by yourself, perhaps through an online job platform or because a friend has recommended you to an employer. You’ve already done interviews with the employer and have made some agreement to work for them. You and your future employer just need the employment agency to process the visa and paperwork.
A word of caution about using online job platforms: Be very cautious about job offers that you find online. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are many scams!
How should I choose an agency?
Choosing a trustworthy employment agency is very important to working abroad. You need an employment agency that will look out for you and your interests, not just their own.
Here are some tips you can follow:
1) Check for their POEA License number: First, make sure you are dealing with an agency with a license. You can check if the agency is licensed or unlicensed on the POEA website: http://www.poea.gov.ph/services/recruiters.html This is the first step you should take but not the only step!
2) How are they treating you?: Do you feel respected by the staff that’s assisting you? Are they willing to answer your questions or concerns? This can be a good indicator for how they will work with you going forward. Remember, if there are any changes to your employment situation while you are overseas, your employment agency will be THE main point of contact. Your employment agency should also be able to provide you help if you are facing difficulties while you are abroad.
3) Ask about any fees: Ask what you will be expected to pay here in the Philippines and at your destination. By Philippine law, Domestic Workers, Seafarers, and Caregivers are exempted from paying placement fees.
In Hong Kong, domestic workers can legally be charged 10% of the first month’s salary.
Below are some possible expenses you may have:
Any transportation fees during processing
Lodging fees (as needed)
The mandatory seminar fees by Philippine authorities (PDOS)
Passport Application fees
4) Pay attention to what you sign: Make sure you understand the contracts and documents that your signing for. If you have any questions, make sure to ask. There have been many cases where workers signed loan agreements that they did not fully understand. This led to debt or financial problems later on. Signing any contract means you agree to the responsibilities and requirements it lists out. Make sure that you are comfortable with what you are signing up and agreeing for!
5) Make sure you have access to your passport: Your passport is an essential identity and travel document. It belongs to you and no one should prevent you from accessing it. Your agency may need to have it while they process your paperwork, but they should return it to you when it is ready. Your passport should not be held or confiscated from you - this is illegal.
Always be wary of Illegal recruiters. You can report such a recruitment agency to the POEA via its hotline (722-11-44 / 722-11-55) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We hope this guide will be useful to you as you make your plans to work abroad. Going overseas for work is a big decision and finding the right employment agency is important. Make sure to consider your options carefully.